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University of Sussex

Care Leaver Covenant and Voluntary Sector Case Study

Care Leaver Covenant and Voluntary Sector Case Study

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The University of Sussex is a public research university located in Falmer, Sussex

1. Student

  • The Access team works closely with local authorities and virtual schools, offering priority places for children in care on outreach events, including sustained programmes and summer schools. The team also delivers CPD sessions for key influencers/supporters of children in care, including foster carers, social workers, personal advisors, and school staff including designated-teachers.
  • The Access team also offers the opportunity for one-to-one student shadowing opportunities, allowing children in care time with a student on a course similar to the subject they are interested in, as well as meeting key staff, and learning of the support they would be entitled to as a student.
  • The Admissions team will consider contextualised offers for care-experienced applicants.
  • There are designated members of staff at pre-entry, post-entry (student advisor) and within the careers team.
  • The pre-entry care leaver co-ordinator liaises with care-experienced applicants during the admissions cycle, providing advice and support, and informing them of the University of Sussex Care Leaver Award once their eligibility is determined.
  • A dedicated phone line is offered to care leavers for A-level results day, giving them easy access to a member of staff (the pre-entry care leaver co-ordinator), who will give advice and support, and liaise with Admissions staff on the student’s behalf if they have not achieved the required grades.
  • Where a care leaver has applied for University-managed accommodation, the pre-entry care leaver co-ordinator will liaise with the Housing Services team to ensure that they have received one of their top choices of residence.
  • Care leavers will be offered the opportunity to be met by a member of staff from the University (Widening Participation team) at the Welcome Weekend.
  • For a student’s transition into university the designated student advisor will meet with them at induction, and a series of events in the first term.
  • The University offers accommodation 52 weeks per year for care-experienced students; it will also cover the cost of a bedding and kitchen pack upon arrival if required.
  • Our care leaver offer is communicated on the University web pages – including a page within the finance pages, plus a stand-alone page within the Student Life Centre pages, which outlines all on-course support. We also maintain the information available on the Propel pages.
  • The University is a member institution of NNECL (National Network for the Education of Care Leavers), and has a member of staff who both represents the University of Sussex and chairs the NNECL meetings, as well as sitting on the NNECL National Strategy Group (NSG). This allows us an insight and regular updates on the progress of the 12 by 24 pledge, and NNECL’s own Kitemark Pilot, to ensure we are progressing and extending our support wherever possible, when a need or gap is identified.
  • For 2020 entry, care leavers will be entitled to a financial bursary of £1,000 for their first year of study (foundation year or year 1) and £500 for each subsequent year. In addition, care leavers are a priority group for accessing our generous hardship fund.


2. A Robust Employment Offer

A dedicated care leaver advisor in our Careers and Employability team provides one-to-one support with tasks ranging from CV writing to completion of job applications.

In addition, care leaver students are eligible to apply for the following fully-funded programmes:

  • Eight-week UK Summer Internships – paid at the minimum higher level national living wage per hour.
  • Work shadowing opportunities – two days in a local or regional company, with all travel expenses paid.
  • South East Asia Summer Schools – fully funded to include tuition fees, accommodation, flights and a living allowance.
  • China Internships – fully funded for four weeks in the summer – including flights, accommodation and a living allowance.
  • Junior Research Associate scheme – a bursary of £2,000 to cover an eight-week intensive summer research project in year 2.

The University’s Learn to Transform strategy sits alongside the University’s strategic vision to make students our partners in the big decisions that face the University. This is an aspirational approach working with our students to co-create partnership opportunities in all of the work that we do. Care leaver students will be a priority group for these paid roles and will be encouraged to engage in the following:

  • Students co-creating to shape the services that will support retention and an enhanced student experience;
  • Providing a suite of personal development opportunities that improve students’ confidence, self-belief and leadership capabilities;
  • Aiding transition, particularly through working with students to increase their feelings of belonging and connection;
  • Championing and extending opportunities for our students to engage more in university life.

The length of these paid roles will vary and allow flexibility for students to engage throughout the year.  The roles will be paid at the minimum higher level national living wage.

3. Community

This work is currently being developed.  The University’s Engage for Change strategy, within our Sussex 2025 Strategic Framework, puts interaction with communities at its heart.  It foregrounds the importance of engaging externally, and the benefits to both the community and the University in doing so.  Our Widening Participation team works with a number of primary and secondary schools in the local and wider community, employing student ambassadors to lead events and projects with children within the schools and on visits to the University campus.  Care leavers are prioritised for working as Widening Participation ambassadors and are able to act as role models for school pupils, some of whom may also be from a background that includes time spent in care.    

The University of Sussex runs a Clinical Legal Education project, which provides free legal advice to local residents.  Fewer and fewer people meet the criteria for external free legal aid, which has led to the service at the University proving popular.  Law students are at the forefront, providing direct legal advice in areas including employment law, family law, and housing and welfare law.  The service is run by a qualified lawyer from the University of Sussex, and legal advice is only given by students following consultation with a qualified lawyer.  Students studying Law are able to volunteer for the project, and have the reward of knowing they’ve helped change a person’s life for the better.  The service has helped hundreds of people in the local community since its inception in 2016, and feedback from people who’ve received legal advice has illustrated the difference it has made to their lives.

Taking Up This Offer

For more information: propel.org.uk/Details/the-university-of-sussex

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